Divi Theme Review and Guide
Before I jump into my Divi theme review, I should probably start with a disclaimer. I've written for the Elegant Themes blog. But I promise you that I won't let that color my thoughts as I dig into this theme. I also promise you that I won't give you some canned BS affiliate spiel. These are the real thoughts from a guy who's spent tons of time using Divi.
Divi 3.0 Review Summary
Divi is a powerful multi-purpose theme that can help you build a beautiful, professional-looking website without needing to know any code.
The new visual builder is intuitive, Divi makes excellent use of the WordPress Customizer, and Divi Leads makes A/B testing fantastically simple
With that being said, Divi is not perfect. Theme lock-in is a real issue to consider. And sometimes the sheer number of options can feel overwhelming.
I'll discuss that, and more, in my full review.
What I like About Divi
- Divi is truly multi-purpose. You can create any type of website.
- The Visual Builder in Divi 3.0 is great.
- Excellent use of the Customizer means easy WYSIWYG editing.
- Divi has an amazing support ecosystem.
- Divi Leads is one of the absolute easiest ways to add A/B testing to WordPress.
What I Don't Like About Divi
- The shortcodes created by the Divi Builder make it difficult to move away.
- Because Divi offers so many options, beginners might feel overwhelmed.
What is Divi?
Divi is a powerful multi-purpose WordPress theme from a company called Elegant Themes. By combining a highly customizable theme with a powerful page builder, Divi makes it possible for anyone, even someone who’s totally code-illiterate, to create a beautiful WordPress site.
While Divi has plenty of theme customization options, the real driver behind its success is the Divi Builder. The Divi Builder is a page builder built specifically to work with the Divi theme. It lets you create detailed pages or posts from scratch. And you can even use it to go one step further and optimize your designs via A/B testing.
Because I believe it’s the foundation of Divi’s success, I’ll go in-depth with the Divi builder in this review, as well as discussing all the other features of the Divi theme.
What Types of Sites Can You Build With Divi?
Like I said, Divi is multipurpose. That means you can technically use it to create any type of site.
Portfolio sites, small business sites, restaurant sites, blogs...it’s all fair game.
You can even use it to create an eCommerce site with WooCommerce, though to be honest, I think a dedicated WooCommerce theme is a better option if you want to create a store. Divi can do it, but it's not specialized for that.
Divi Theme Examples
I tried to pull a variety of examples to show you how versatile Divi can be. In case you doubt these examples are actually running Divi, you can always check the source code!
Hands On With the Divi Builder
The Divi Builder is one of the key features that makes it so easy for anyone to create complex designs. It’s a powerful page builder that allows you edit both in the frontend and backend (more on that later).
Is Divi Builder the best page builder I’ve ever used?
Honestly, no. If you put a gun to my head, my first two choices would be Elementor or Thrive Content Builder.
But Divi Builder is a damn close second. The fact that slightly better page builders exist doesn’t mean the Divi Builder is bad. Additionally, the Divi Builder is designed to integrate well with the Divi Theme. So when you combine the Divi Builder with a theme specifically built to take advantage of its functionality, it’s definitely a powerful page builder.
Front-end vs. Backend Page Builders
Ok, so I told you Divi Builder lets you edit in both the front-end and backend. What does that actually mean?
Front-end - you edit the “final product”. It’s “what you see is what you get”. You’re seeing, and editing, the exact same design that your end users will see. Here’s what front-end page building looks like:
Backend - you edit generic “boxes” and columns. It’s nice for creating your page’s layout, but not so great for putting the finishing touches on. Here’s what backend page building looks like:
If I had to pick just one page builder style, I prefer front-end builders. But both have their advantages, so the fact that the Divi Builder lets you seamlessly move between the two is actually a major advantage.
How Do You Build Pages With Divi?
Ok, let me give you a quick visual example of how you can actually build your pages with Divi.
When you have Divi installed, you’ll see this new Use The Divi Builder button on all of your posts or pages. All you need to do is click it to enter the backend page builder interface:
You can design your pages in the backend interface, but I think it’s more intuitive to show you how to use Divi using the Visual Builder.
Divi Builder designs basically consist of two concepts:
Columns and Rows - think of these as the framework in which to put your content.
Modules - these are the elements which actually display your content. For example, the Button module lets you add stylish buttons to your designs.
To create a design, you first need to add a new row. You can make it a single-column row or split it into a few different options:
Then you need to insert a module:
I’ll insert a Button module as an example. Once you add a module, you can easily configure it using the interface. You don’t need to know any code or anything - you just fill in the form fields:
You can easily change colors, sizes, text, and anything else. You can even add icons and other small details.
Divi has modules for almost every piece of content you need to create. You can add contact forms, email optins, portfolio items, pricing tables, and lots more. Here’s the full list of modules:
Honestly, as far as modules go, Divi has one of the best lists of any page builder I’ve ever used.
I love Thrive Content Builder (what I’m using to design the page for this review), but it’s missing key modules like Search and Contact Form. Divi has those modules.
Save Your Divi Layouts to the Library to Easily Reuse Them
I know this is a situation you’re likely to encounter:
You create a beautiful layout. And you love it so much that you want to use it on some of your other pages. Do you have to manually recreate it for each page?
Don’t worry - you don’t have to duplicate all of your hard work.
Divi lets you save your layouts (or just specific portions of your layouts) so that you can easily reuse them later.
Once you save a layout, you can insert it on any other page with just a few clicks:
Use Divi Layouts to Skip Starting from Scratch
One thing I really like about Divi is that it includes premade layouts in the Builder. So, instead of always needing to start from a blank canvas (or one of the templates you’ve saved), you can start from one of Elegant Themes’ professionally made layouts. The Divi theme layouts are always available in your library and take just a few clicks to load.
For example, they have pre-made designs for an About Me page, your Contact Us page, a Sales Page, and lots more:
Easy Undo / Redo In Case You Make Mistakes
Another great thing about the Divi Builder is its undo/redo buttons. If you ever make a mistake, you can just click the undo button to move one step back.
If you’re familiar with Microsoft Word, I’m sure you understand how this feature works:
While most WordPress page builders offer some type of revision history, not all offer a dedicated undo/redo feature, so this is a definite positive for Divi Builder. Thrive Content Builder also has this feature and I find myself using it all the time.
(opens in a new tab - click Try the Divi Builder for Free to launch the demo)
Divi Theme and the WordPress Customizer
Another thing I really like about the Divi theme is how well it uses the WordPress Customizer.
Like Matt Mullenweg, I believe that the WordPress Customizer is the key to the future of WordPress. That’s because it lets you customize your site in real-time. No need to change a menu setting, then save your changes, and then refresh the preview to actually see your edits.
Because Divi uses the Customizer, you just make the change and instantly see how it will affect your site.
Divi lets you use the Customizer in two ways:
- To customize the styles for your theme.
- To customize the styles for individual modules you use in Divi Builder
The first use is standard for most themes. But the second use is quite unique and again speaks to the benefit of having your page builder fully integrated with the theme that you’re using.
Using the WordPress Customizer to Style the Divi Theme
Let’s start with the standard use - customizing your theme. You can customize a whole range of options:
There are too many options to show you each individually, but here’s a taste of what you can do:
- Change your header style
- Modify your footer
- Customize color schemes and fonts
- Choose the style for your buttons
- And lots, lots more.
To be honest, most of this is standard stuff for WordPress themes. But Divi does have one feature that I really like:
You can customize styles and font sizes for different mobile devices. Google recommends using at least 16 pt font for mobile, so it’s great that Divi lets you go in and make that change from the Customizer:
Divi Theme Header Options
From reading, people seem very concerned with Divi's header options. I personally don't mind much, but if you're one of those people, Divi lets you customize its header in a number of ways via the WordPress Customizer. You can choose from:
- Centered inline logo
- Slide in
- Full screen
You can also easily enable Vertical Navigation if you want your main navigation bar to display vertically (almost like a sidebar). And Divi also lets you hide the navigation until a user starts scrolling.
All in all, I think Divi gives you plenty of header options.
Using the WordPress Customizer to Style Divi Builder Modules
Here’s where Divi gets unique. You can actually use the WordPress Customizer to style how your modules look. As far as I know, there’s no other theme/page builder that lets you do this.
While you can still style each module individually, it’s nice to be able to quickly set defaults for how your modules look and function.
The Smaller Areas Where Divi Excels
While the Divi Builder is the bedrock, Elegant Themes has distinguished itself by packing Divi with a number of other features. In my opinion, these features/benefits are what take Divi from being just another quality WordPress theme builder to being one of the best options on the market.
A/B Testing Your Site With Divi Leads
If you’re not a marketer, you might not be familiar with A/B testing, AKA split-testing. Here’s a quick primer - basically, it lets you compare two different versions of your pages to find out which performs better.
So you could, for example, compare two different versions of a button to find which one gets more clicks. Long story short, split testing is a great way to optimize your website.
Normally, A/B testing is difficult to implement in WordPress. There are certainly plugins that can help you do it - Nelio A/B Testing is a great one. But good A/B testing plugins cost money and are hard to integrate into your theme.
Divi makes A/B testing easy with something called Divi Leads.
When you enable split-testing, you’ll be able to create multiple versions of your modules:
Honestly, this feature alone almost made me choose Divi over Thrive Themes. It’s a powerful, powerful feature. You won’t find an easier way to run A/B tests using WordPress.
If you do end up choosing the Divi theme, I recommend you take full advantage of this feature.
Exploring the Divi Theme Options Panel
There’s one area I haven’t even touched on - the Divi Theme Options panel. It enables a whole slew of options for styling your website’s navigation and layout.
And it’s also where I think Divi can get a little bogged down. If you’re a beginner (or even intermediate), it’s easy to feel absolutely overwhelming looking at all of these options.
I would’ve liked if they’d tried to integrate these options into the WordPress Customizer.
For example, you have navigation options for Pages, Categories, and General Settings:
It’s powerful because you have so much control, but it does feel a bit like wading through mud sometimes.
One thing I do enjoy about the Theme Options Panel is that it lets you easily add custom code snippets to your <head> or <body>. This makes it simple to integrate tracking scripts and the like. No need to dig into your theme’s actual code.
Limiting User Permissions With Divi’s Role Editor
If you’re going to be the only person with access to your WordPress site, this feature does nothing for you.
But if you’re going to allow other people to have WordPress account access, it’s great that you can use Divi’s built-in Role Editor to restrict what menu options they’ll have access to. For example, you can prohibit certain user roles from having access to things like:
- Divi Builder library
- Divi Builder in general
- Certain modules
- And lots, lots more.
Again, this feature is only helpful if you’re going to allow others access to your site.
Divi Theme SEO - Will it Rank As Well as Other Themes?
I know some people are concerned that sites built with page builders might not rank as well in the search engines. In my experience, this is bollocks. I've built sites using page builders that rank just fine. And some of the best marketers I know also use page builders to rank for highly competitive terms.
The only real SEO complaint is that page builders muck up your code. And that's true - the code is ugly. But Google is pretty dang good at what they do, so I haven't ever seen that cause an issue. Yes, it's better to have cleaner code for slightly faster site speeds, but things like caching and hosting will have an infinitely greater affect on your page load times. So, I don't think there's any reason to worry about Divi theme SEO.
An Amazing Support Ecosystem With Lots of Tutorials
Let me get one thing out of the way:
I’ve never had to contact Elegant Themes directly for help. So I can’t speak to the quality of their human support. But I can say this:
The Divi support ecosystem is amazing. Elegant Themes has a detailed knowledge base full of videos and tutorials. They also post lots of tutorials on their blog (you’ll even find some of my writing there).
And the really cool part is that there’s a huge third-party support ecosystem. You can find third-party websites creating tutorials for how to get the most from Divi. So basically, if you’re ever stumped for how to create a certain type of design, you can probably find help.
This is one of the benefits of going with a popular theme - there’s a wealth of information out there.
I have read some reviews of disgruntled customers who were upset with Elegant Themes’ human support. But again, I can’t speak to whether or not those are just a few upset people or there are actual issues with human support.
What About Divi and Theme Lock-In?
I want to hit this subject because I think it is a major consideration. If you found my post by searching for something like Divi theme review, then there’s a good chance you saw Chris Lema’s post about Divi and theme lock-in.
If you haven’t, here’s a quick summary:
The Divi Builder uses something called shortcodes to help you create pages without needing to know how to code. This is fine - it won’t affect the performance of your site. But if you ever need to switch themes, it can be a problem. Basically, if you switch, all those shortcodes will no longer work (or, that’s how it used to be).
Luckily, Elegant Themes has tried to mitigate this issue by creating a plugin version of the Divi Builder. That means that if you need to switch themes down the road, you won’t lose your beautifully designed content as long as you continue to use the Divi Builder plugin.
Ok - that’s not perfect. But it is better than nothing.
Honestly, I struggle with this shortcode issue every day. The page builder I use on this site, Thrive Content Builder, also uses shortcodes. In the end, I decided that the benefits of Thrive Content Builder outweigh the potential negatives of lock-in.
I think that’s probably the right decision for you, too.
But if you’re the type of person who enjoys changing themes every 3 months, then you need to think carefully about whether or not a shortcode-based page builder is right for you. There are other page builders like Beaver Builder and Elementor which don’t rely on shortcodes.
Update! In March, 2017, Elegant Themes rolled out the new visual editor for the plugin version of the Divi Builder. Now, I think the impact of theme lock-in is even less. That's because you can use the same powerful Divi Builder as both part of the Divi theme and as a standalone plugin. Now, you're no longer losing any builder functionality if you switch to a different theme. Super cool!
Divi Theme Price - How Much Does It Cost?
Elegant Themes offers you two different price points to purchase the Divi theme. First, you can pay $89 for yearly access. This gets you one year of updates and premium support. After the first year is over, you can pay to continue to receive updates if desired. Your site will keep working after the first year even if you don't pay - you'll just no longer get updates after the first year if you don't renew.
Alternatively, you can pay $249 for a lifetime license. With this plan, you get support and updates for life. Some quick math should tell you that if you plan to keep Divi for more than ~2.75 years, the lifetime plan comes out ahead.
With both plans, you also get access to every single other Elegant Themes product, which is a huge value in itself. Some of those products include:
- Monarch Social Sharing - a powerful plugin for adding social sharing functionality to your site.
- Bloom Email Opt-in - a great way to grow your email list.
- Extra theme - while not as popular as Divi, this is a great theme in its own right.
- And access to lots more themes and plugins.
Should You Buy the Divi Theme?
Elegant Themes’ Divi Theme is right up there with Thrive Themes (what I use on this site) as far as I’m concerned. My decision between Thrive Themes and Divi literally came down to the wire.
In the end, I chose Thrive Themes. But if you’re more of a “creative type” than a “marketing type”, then I think Divi is a better option for you. Thrive Themes is minimalist and conversion-oriented, whereas Divi lets you create much more beautiful, create designs.
The only thing holding me back from 100% recommending it is the theme lock-in. But, I’m similarly locked into the theme system I chose (Thrive Themes) and have been happy so far. So you know what? If you buy from a reputable company and love the theme, I really don’t think theme lock-in is that big of a concern. Elegant Themes and Divi are massively successful, so I don't think they're going away any time soon.
And like I mentioned, the standalone Divi Builder plugin now makes it much easier to switch themes down-the-road.
All that being said, if you want to:
- Build a beautiful website from scratch
- Design your posts and pages beyond the capabilities of the basic WordPress Editor.
- Split test your content to optimize your site
- Take advantage of a vibrant support community with tons of tutorials.
Then I absolutely recommend you try Divi.
Disclosure: The Divi links in this post are affiliate links. That means if you click on a link from this page and buy Divi, I will receive a small commission. With that being said, all opinions are my own and I do not accept money for positive reviews.
I think the value you get with Divi 3.0 and the Elegant Themes Developer package is unbeaten. Additionally, I’ve always found the support ecosystem to be amazing, though I’ve never tried to contact their live support.
The only area where I dinged Divi was “Quality”. I took off half a star for the use of shortcodes as the bedrock of the Divi Builder. It’s the one thing I really wish Elegant Themes would change. The Divi Builder plugin is a nice compromise, at least.
Colin Newcomer is a freelance writer for hire with a background in SEO and affiliate marketing. He helps clients grow their web visibility by writing primarily about digital marketing, WordPress, and B2B topics.